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You: Starting a…Wedding Planning Business

Cynthia Bunting, BusinessNewsDaily Contributor

Business Type: Wedding Planning Business
Owner: Catharine Han
Business Name: Your Dream Wedding & Events

We've all had dreams of starting our own business. But, often, the challenge is figuring out how to turn your brilliant business idea into a profitable adventure. In our series, "You: Starting a Business," we ask real business owners to tell us how they started their successful small businesses.

This week, we interview Catharine Han, owner of the Milwaukee, Wis.-based wedding planning business Your Dream Wedding & Events. She tells us how she got started and, more importantly, if she has ever encountered last minute cancellations.

BusinessNewsDaily: What were your initial startup costs?

Catharine Han: My startup cost was very little...less than $500 dollars and did not need to take out a loan.

BND: How long did it take you to make a profit?

C.H.: It took me two years to make a profit.

BND: What are your biggest overhead expenses?

C.H.: My biggest overhead expenses are my website and association fee.

BND: What has been the biggest challenge?

C.H.: My biggest challenge has been this economy right now...a lot more people are into DIY (do-it-yourself) mode because we are in tough times however we as event planners as well as with other event professionals are trying to educate consumers by saying that some things you just cannot do by yourself and should be left for professionals like myself.

BND: How do you find suppliers?

C.H.: In my industry they are called vendors, but better term is event professionals. I find those by visiting venues. When I first started out I Googled different things like photographers, florists, etc., and met with them that way. I also network with these professionals through different association meetings. Now that I am established, these professionals find me and they contact me wanting to show me their work as well as tell me about their experience.

BND: How many weddings can you plan at a time?

C.H.: I can plan fifteen weddings a year at a time. This is not to say that I cannot plan more, but this is what I have done.

BND: What is your busiest month?

C.H.: My busiest months are July and October. October because Wisconsin is beautiful with all the fall colors.

BND: What was the cost of the most expensive wedding you planned?

C.H.: The cost of the most expensive wedding that I have done is $80,000.

BND: What is the easiest way to save money on a wedding?

C.H.: The easiest way to save money is by not including linens and lighting, although it adds texture and color to your wedding. But, there are other ways of adding color to your wedding, for instance through your centerpiece.

BND: What do you do when someone’s dream wedding is out of their budget?

C.H.: If I cannot do whatever I can to make their dream wedding come true in their budget, I help my clients design a wedding that is similar to the one they dreamed of and give them a few options, but usually I am able to help them create a wedding that is their dream or very close to it.

BND: Have you planned weddings where the groom never showed up?

: I have never planned a wedding where the groom never showed up, however I have planned weddings where they were cancelled right before the wedding, after everything had been planned.

BND: What trends in weddings are you seeing today?

C.H.: Some trends that I am seeing for weddings are cupcake towers instead of the traditional tiered cake, donating to the couple's favorite charity in lieu of wedding favors, invitations sent through email or Facebook, which I only recommended if you are only having close friends and family at the wedding. This however does not work with every wedding.

BND: Do couples argue in front of you?

C.H.: Yes and I truly believe it is part of my job to really help them iron things out when it comes to their wedding.

BND: Have you ever had to turn away couples because they were to difficult to work with?

C.H.: Yes, I have turned couples away because they were too difficult to work with. It is important that my personality matches my clients. It is not only the client's decision to work a wedding planner, but the wedding planner needs to feel that it is a right match for themselves as well because you will be working with those clients for some time, usually for six or more months.

If you are interested in opening your own wedding planning business, you can get more information from these wedding planning associations: Association of Bridal Consultantshttp and the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants.